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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

MD First Look: 2011 Harley-Davidson Blackline

Harley-Davidson looks like it’s being slowly nursed back to health, thanks to a combination of TALF loan underwriting (that has since been 100% paid back) of its consumer lending arm and the radical liposuction of personnel and extraneous operations (RIP, Buell). But all the cost-cutting and fat-trimming in the world will do no good if a motorcycle company can’t sell motorcycles, and that’s a problem for H-D. Its core customer group—Baby Boomers—is hitting retirement age, and although they’ll probably be riding strong into the 2020s, their numbers are dwindling, and their kids and grandkids aren’t buying motorcycles (all motorcycles, not just Harley-Davidsons) in the same numbers, for whatever reasons. I’ll leave the speculation to our posters, as if they need our permission. To court younger buyers, H-D created the “Dark Custom” lineup in 2007, with a lean, matte-finished bobber look dominating the new products. And the latest installment is the 2011 Blackline.

H-D’s Dark Custom-izers started with the Softail platform, distinguished by its hardtail-look rear suspension—just right for a bobber. The Twin Cam 96 motor with “Cruise Drive” six-speed transmission gets a gloss-black powdercoat treatment on the cases and covers, with a few tasteful hints of chrome. The chassis gets a new satin-black finish on the frame and swingarm, and an FX front end with blacked-out triples and fork lowers. Braking is with a four-piston caliper and single 292mm disc in front and a single four-piston caliper in back. ABS is an available option. Wheels use spokes and black-finished aluminum rims, with a big 21-inch tire in front and a skinny 140-section rear tire. Skinny is the new fat, I guess. Ready to ride, it’s a mere 683 pounds—not bad for a heavyweight cruiser.

The Blackline gets all-new bodywork to finish it off. The fenders are minimal, the fat, curvy tank is brand new and the seat is as low as a dual seat can get—just 24 inches with a rider on board (26.1 inches unleaden). The handlebars are an interesting new two-part “split drag” design, black finished and internally wired for a clean look. The forward-mount controls match the long, low stance of the bike. It’s a 21st-Century take on the Billy Bike from Easy Riders to the Captain America of the new  2012 Victory High-Ball.

Will the fresh and minimal styling be enough to draw in new riders? Well, it sure will get them interested, but at a starting MSRP of $15,499, it might be a little out of reach for younger buyers, who are probably more interested in bikes in the sub-$10,000 range. I’ll look into how well the Dark Custom range is doing meeting its goals and report back at a later date.


  1. hal says:

    They are relaxing to ride very slowly….Seriously! I have 5 bikes including 2 big Harleys. It is like having a 57 Chevy and an old Cadillac….you just gotta be in the mood. When I need to tour,I take my BMW RT and when I want small I ride my Triumph Scrambler. Great to have a stable!!

  2. RJ says:

    Nice bike in black. The Softails are counterbalanced, solid mounted are really smooth, but needs some aftermarket horsepower parts. Only thing I hate is the handlebars. They are two separate parts mounted to the top triple – looks odd to me… But check it out and see for yourself….

  3. Nate says:

    How exactly is this different from the Night Train?

  4. Burt says:

    I’m not a Harley fan.
    But I do think all the anti-Harley folks–and I DO
    love all of you–are a bit crazy to bury Harley so
    quickly. People were burying them in the 1980’s but
    their success shows that was crazy. I think they
    are smart. The baby boomers are not dead yet. Harley
    will change when they need to change.
    And at least Harley has survived selling motorcycles,
    without having to sell quads and watercraft.
    (Harley selling watercraft–there’s a joke in there
    somewhere, maybe with a large selection of anchors.

  5. Ross says:

    Same old same old…. nothing new, ever.

  6. Randy says:

    I’d never buy this or any other HD new. I’m a little tonedeaf with the “crusier” styling. But I do have a 2003 883R (1200 conversion) that’s moderately fun to ride. I’ve had many other bikes – BMW, Ducati – they come and go. The Sporty survives, can explain it exactly.

  7. Dannytheman says:

    I think this Blackline is beautiful. I have test driven the Victorys every year, I love the engine, but I hate the way they mount the accessories, so much that it drives me nuts.
    It is an odd mix of Japan and America, not ready for me yet.

    That Blackline is very sexy!

  8. Jeremy in TX says:

    To each his own, but that is lame, dorky bike. At least the owners will look cooler than the guy on the Victory High-Ball.

  9. William says:

    I get the impression that the management at H-D is unable to create new designs or use new engine designs for FEAR of alienating their core buyers. I remember the hand wringing and drama surrounding the release of the V-Rod because it was water-cooled and designed by Porsche instead of another in house push rod design.

    I heard many negative comments from H-D faithful at rides, rallies and meets I attended. Riders of other brands were generally positive in their comments and reviews of the V-Rod when it first came out.

    I used to have Sportster (’82 ironhead bought new) back in the day. I liked it at the time but almost immediently spent money on accessories (chrome baby chrome). I sold it after two years and 19,000 miles because it was falling apart (literally). It is clear from walking into an H-D dealership that the real profit in those stores is made in parts and accessories. That’s where they make the money.

    What is the one thing you never see on the road? answer – a stock Harley.

    Looking at the success that Triumph has had by creating new bikes in different categories. Sure, they still have their classic line, but the real sellers are the Speed/Street triples, and in 2011 they will probably sell boatloads of Tiger 800s. No one is complaining about how they abandoned their core market. They still sell Bonnevilles and scramblers, but they’ve branched out, something the management at H-D is unwilling or unable to do.

    Even BMW moved away from airhead boxer twins a long time ago. They improved their flat twin bikes and still sell them to their faithful, but now they have a huge market based on the excellent F series upright twins.

    What would have happened if H-D had introduced a sport model from Buell or MV and badged it as a Harley? Would the bikers have stripped their H-D tattoos off their arms or burned down the dealerships? Would the dealerships not know how to handle a new breed of customer interested in performance instead of styling?

    They sold off MV and killed Buell in order to concentrate on their “core brand”. Well, that kind of limits the new markets they will be able to expand into, and if you don’t grow, you stagnate and eventually die.

  10. Will says:

    I am 57 and have been riding for three years. I looked at Harley-Davidson motorcycles but just couldn’t pull the switch. Too heavy, too loud, too low, too expensive, and not enough suspension travel. Why not rework the sportster chassis and create an American naked standard. Less rake, a 30 inch seat height(or adjustable), raise the suspension for improved suspension/handling/ride characteristics, get the weight below 500 lbs., install quieter pipes, throw in a free handlebar fitting/switch out, and get the price to $7,000 – $7,500 and they may attract some younger buyers. They probably would have made me a customer. What do you think? It is time for HD to offer a variety of models like other manufacturers. Keep the traditional cruisers but offer a clear choice.

    I purchased a 2009 Kawasaki ER-6n. An easy, comfortable, great handling ride.

  11. chris says:

    WAITING FOR THE SO CALLED MOTOR COMPANY TO ACTUALLY COME OUT with EITHER SOME THING NEW AND GROUND BREAKING IS LIKE LEAVING THE PORCHLIGHT ON for Jimmy Hoffa,how long do they plan on remaking the old copies of outdated overpriced junk. They proved their stupidity in the way they handled Buell and MV Agusta and to hear them say they want to stay with the core customers and they are not interested in the as they call it the adrenalin market EX. sportbikes proves they are to stupid to exist much longer. And by the way I am an ex harley owner and would never go back.

  12. Curtis says:

    I’m 44 and shopping for a Harley. But it’ll be the fourth bike in my garage, and it damn sure won’t be new. The price of used Harleys is getting reasonable, but the premium you pay for a new one is absurd.

    • GazzaT says:

      The American price sounds good compared to what it is likely to cost in Australia if it comes out here. It will be most likely in the $30,000+ price range. Ouch!!!

  13. Bob in Monterey says:

    All I see are new paint schemes on a very old and expensive idea. These beasts seem to be more about fashion than gettin’ down the road. Their marketing guru’s seem to be focusing on the idea of motorcycling, rather than actual motorcycling. I’ve not got Frank’s riding experience, though. I didn’t start riding until 1970. I didn’t get it then. I don’t get it now. Many people do. More power to them. The problem is that pool of folks is obviously shrinking and HD is obviously not listening. Also, I don’t know how they came up with the idea that young people want “dark.” I don’t see that on the road – not even on Harleys.

  14. MikeD says:

    Great, another H-D with 1920’s Farm Equipment Technology at Formula 1 Car Prices…keep it up H-D, u ain’t getting any of my money (^_^ ).

  15. J$ says:


    Yah DITTO…It always kills me when naysayers chime in about how crappy HD is but they never have actually ridden one OR maybe they rode one back in the 70s and think a leaky old 30 HP Shovel Head is the same thing as a new 103 CI injected twin cam that is virtually maintenance free other than oil changes/tires/brake pads. That’s like saying all new Fords suck because your uncle had a pinto back in 76 that exploded… Look, over the past couple years Ive gotten dozens of friends and/or acquaintances to take a test ride on a new HD and everyone of them were very surprised at how much they enjoyed the smoothness, power, and comfort of the modern HD. And yes I do own a Harley but I am not a pirate or Kool Aid drinker. I own 4 other non Harleys currently as well as 25 other non HDs over the years. Lets face it, ALL manufacturers have lemons, good models, bad models, ups and downs. But please for the love of all that is holy… Take a test ride BEFORE jumping on the bash wagon.

    • scott says:

      in the last two years i’ve ridden a sportster, an ultra classic and a road king. i will grant you that the “newer” engines require less attention than the amf days, abut the bikes are still heavy, unresponsive in the corners and rediculously over-priced in comparison to other bikes that out-perform them for half the money. i own two hondas, one yamaha, one kawasaki and one triumph. i don’t own a harley, but that’s on purpose and after riding their current offerings. i have buddies that ride them, and more power to them, but stop trying to compare them to the state of the motorcycle art. they are fun, like a restored muscle car, but they cost like a new beemer.

    • falcodoug says:

      Frank, see my last post.

  16. Kjazz says:

    Frank, I’ll be frank with you…. enjoy it while you can. Because like it or not, your marque is already dead. They just have not read their obituary yet.

    • 305ed says:

      Keep dreaming. Harley will be around for another hundred years, outselling Gixxers, Ninjas and CBR’s combined.

  17. todd says:

    Typical Harley, paint it a little bit different, throw a bunch off letters at it and see what sticks and call it a new model. Get a grip Harley!! Never had a desire to own one and never will!!

  18. Tom Shields says:

    Looks pretty much like every other Harley to me.

  19. Ren says:

    Man, I’m so discouraged. I like the ride, think it looks cool, but honestly I have zero rider experience. I’m saving up to take a riding course for my license and it has been my dream as a teenager to get myself a Harley, not a Victory, not a Rice Burner, a Harley. And no matter my financial ups and downs I could NEVER afford one. I bought a good used little truck so I can make my first and last purchase of a Harley be a brand new one, but I STILL can’t afford it. I’m medium height 36yr old 220lb guy but damn these things are heavy and so I troll around reading comments from you guys who know sh!t about riding and motorcycles and it makes me wonder if I’m gonna get ripped off and get a crappy feeling ride. I got crappy back from working too hard and I want a nice ride with good braking because I don’t want to be a statistic. Had my eye on the Dyna Wide Glide because of the “chopper” like look because I can’t afford a real chopper and I love the Crossbones a lot. Any recommendations? I don’t want to sound like a little girl but its been burning in my blood to get me an iron horse and just cruise and enjoy life, so I’d appreciate any cool comments and honest assessments. Thanks, Ren.

    • kpaul says:

      Best thing to do, Ren, is try as many bikes as you can. Buy used so if you don’t like it it’s not a big investment. But make sure to get the proper gear and training (MSF course). I have ridden 2 Harley’s and I didn’t get the same wet dream feeling Frank did. I have tried Buells, Duatis, Triumphs, Honda cruisers and sport bikes, Yamaha sportbikes, Kawasaki sportbikes. I love sportbikes and consider them the safest bikes to ride if you follow the traffic laws and don’t speed too much. Sporbikes can stop fast, turn quick and if necessary accelerate quickly out of trouble. For cruisers the Honda cruiser was superior to the 2 HDs I rode. The brakes were better, it was smoother and even sounded better. But I am not a cruiser fan. If I slow down and stop riding sport bikes, I will probably get a Ducati Monster or Triumph twin.

  20. scott says:

    please, harley makes 3 bikes. the v-rod, the sporty brick and the ultra brick. what’s to review.

  21. Mr. Mike says:

    There’s a lot to be said for Harleys – nice lines, nice sound, shiny parts, many ways to customize – but they seem way, way overpriced. I would consider buying one as an around-town bike if it were priced reasonably. I don’t know how HD will be able to continue charging a premium for just the name once the buzz from the cool-aid people have been drinking wears off.

  22. Frank says:

    It’s always funny reading negative Harley comments by riders who’ve never ridden a mile on a Harley-Davidson. Can you accurately comment on food you’ve never tasted? A car you’ve never driven? Of course not. But the endless bashing of Harleys by these people goes on. The exerience of Riding a Harley is so different from any other motorcycle, it can’t be understood any other way than riding a Harley several hundred miles in various situations from boulevard cruising to LD touring. The comment about Harley-Davidson’s ‘survival’? Well, we can add another opinion to the thousands who’ve predicted The Motor Company’s demise for the last 100 years. Put simply, It Ain’t Gonna Happen’. Millions of Harley devotees will spend their last dime to keep the company in business. That kind of loyalty doesn’t exist for Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Star, Moto Guzzi, Triumph etc…. I’ve ridden since 1967 on all Major brands in all conditions. I’ve owned several Honda ST1300’s, Nighthawks, Shadows, Suzuki Bandits, dirt bikes and more. Once I rode a few miles on a Harley, it all changed. I’ll never ride another brand. It’s a bond-for-life when you connect with the machine and it’s unique sound and feel. So slam-on non-Harley-riders! To The Faithfull, you’re wasting your time. We know. You don’t.

    • kpaul says:

      Right well Harley took TARP money Frank so there goes your theory of surviving on their own without the help of Uncle Sam. If they hadn’t taken the TARP money would they still be here? or would HD be much smaller. Think about it Frank. Loyalty from buyers who are too old to ride anymore ain’t worth much Frank. HDs market is shrinking and Buell was their best hope to attract large numbers of young riders. I have ridden 2 paint shakers (Harleys) and I found them to be crude, heavy, slow and clumsy. I felt like a sitting duck in traffic. At least with my sportbike I felt like I had a much better chance of avoiding an accident. Kind of like the old BMW commercial. Of course I ride for fun not to show off my loud pipes or to be part of a “brotherhood”.

      • Air Kooled says:

        From my reading of this, the FED was afraid there could be a “credit freeze” from the banks when the financial markets were melting down, so the government offered a short term loan to these companies financial arms in order to make sure they could keep running. A Sen in PA pushed HD to take the loans so they would minmize any lay offs in his state. Been riding HDs since I was 17 (1980). No other bike interest me, you just don’t understand. Hey ride what you like but Harley knows what keeps them going.

    • falcodoug says:

      Frank I have ridden a few Harleys and honestly I don’t get it. Yes if motorcycles were just invented yes a great bike but with all the advancements with engines, brakes, frame type’s suspension, weight reduction and technology the other brands offer why? The only rational I can think of would be to be riding a one of a kind oddity. When I was younger I owned a 1973 VW Thing with drum brakes, windows that you would lift on and off of the doors which you could lift on or off. I had a 20 gallon tank because it only got about 15 mpg, top speed was 55 to 65 mph and at that speed it rattled much you had to yell so the passenger could hear you. It even had a gas fired heater that was next to the gas tank that you would have to clean the glow plug from time to time or you would have no heat, which by the way flowed out right on the top of your right knee. I replaced the motor twice and the transmission once and tuned it constantly on top of that it was orange. But I loved that car and drove it for 13 years and to this day wish I never sold it. If that is what your talking about I get it.

    • Tim says:

      And let’s not forget the tariffs in the 1980’s on import bikes…another goverment intervention that saved Harley’s butt.

      I would love to see Harley succeed. I’m an American, and I like to see Americans have good job opportunites. Unless and until they wake up and realize that they need to evolve the brand, and not just continue to sell the same over-priced, overweight, underpowered machines, the writing is on the wall. They will either evolve, or they won’t be around in anohter 15 years. It’s that simple.

      And, Frank, I have ridden a number of Harleys. Heck, I had a Harley ruin my day on the most beautiful twisty road I’ve ever been on in Maui. It was so heavy and steered so poorly 30 minutes into the ride I was ready for it to be over. That was a ride I had been looking forward to for months. I spent the entire ride thinking how much fun that road would have been on my Triumph.

      Everyone has different tastes. My friends who own Harleys tell me I just don’t get it. I tell them they’re right, I don’t. There was a time when I really wanted to “get it”, but every time I rode one it just reaffirmed to me that they’re not very good motorcycles. The fact is, kids riding today’s sport bikes are not going to gravitate to Harleys when they get older. The bikes are just way too different from what they are familiar with. They’ll want light and smooth, not heavy and rumbling. They’re never going to get it, and Harley will be screwed.

      • Scott in the UK says:

        Well Frank, all I can say is there is no other motorcycle like a Moto Guzzi, they have been going since 1921 and inspire brand loyalty like no other….its a unique sound and feel. And the bonus is that Guzzis go around corners properly. Its fun that.

  23. Harley is like the windows wallpapers, zero excitement

  24. kpaul says:

    Great comments guys…I hate it when I’m right. Years ago I predicted Harley’s decline because of the demographic issue ( that was right before I predicted the economic downturn and financial crisis) and the bad economy has accelerated the decline. Back then folks said I was nuts and that Harley was recession proof. The also said, wrongly, that younger buyers would buy Harley’s when the got older. Well I see more folks on MD are saying the same things I have been saying and the decline in HD’s sales numbers prove it. Yes Harley can remain profitable but it’s market share will continue to decline. Younger buyers will buy Japanese and Italian bikes because manyy grew up driving Japanese and European cars not American cars. They don’t think Harley’s are nostalgic but bikes for old men “boomers”. HD’s only hope was Buell. They killed Buell just as it was coming out with break through models. You win an AMA championship and then you discontinue making bikes. Boy that makes a lot of since.

  25. Jeffy says:

    I bought a new 2003 Dyna Low Rider, after the 1 year warranty ran out it started leaking
    oil. WTF. Im thinking of buying a new bike this year and really like the Yamaha V-Max, till i saw the price – 20 thousand! Ill keep my leaky harley!

  26. William says:

    They wouldn’t have to shred them at all. Just tear ’em apart and sell the parts, they should be interchangeable with every model they’ve produced since 1948.

  27. Vrooom says:

    Are people really saying “I never liked Harley’s before but this is different”, it looks just like every other Harley to me. And that passenger seat was never intended to carry a passenger despite the photo of the happy gal on the back. At 45 I really don’t know anyone who’s saying it’s time to get a Harley, the oldest guy I ride with is 66 and even he says that the appeal of a really heavy, bike with less than top of the line handling and braking doesn’t grow with age. He’s thinking of downsizeing to a V-strom 650 with ABS, great handling and braking, and a wet weight that’s 200 lbs less than what’s claimed for this Harley (and likely 8K cheaper). Not saying no one will buy this, but I don’t see it turning around the aging rider population problem they have.

  28. Daryl says:

    I appreciate what you’re saying but I think your comment is very ironic given the Harley seat she’s riding on in the above picture.

  29. JT says:

    Man, I ride Harleys but this one is laughable. They made this bike for 10 yrs, I was called a night train. They drop it from the lineup for 3 yrs and bring it back as new. Nice.

  30. Steve D says:

    The children of boomers will be riding Adventure bikes. There are already trends showing this. Unfortunately HD killed their only entry into that segment (and it was a nice one) when they killed off Buell. I somehow doubt that HD will be reinventing itself anytime soon either. Everything I’ve ever seen or heard from the HD world is insulary and isolated. They are heavily invested in the whole “it’s not a motorcycle, it’s a Harley” mentality. When folks stop drinking that $15,000 anu up koolaid then they’re going to be in big trouble indeed. And I doubt that there is an unlimited supply of TARP dollars coming from Washington. It may be a case of change or die/shrink for the Old Milwaukee brand.

  31. Tom says:

    What is Harley’s “Trade in your Old Harley for a New Harley!” program.
    They should pay top dollar for the old Harley’s and then shred them into scrap. (Sort brings a whole new definition to the term “Chopper.”) That would reduce the excess supply, and drive up demand for a new model. Harley’s never go obsolete or get driven to death, the way all other bikes and cars do.
    The owner dies before the bike does. Which is a serious problem for Harley.
    Maybe the US government could implement a Cash for Choppers program.

  32. Neil says:

    All said and done, it’s fun to ride pushrod Harleys. I have an ’08 Nightster. For the money I have ridden many other Japanese standards which I enjoyed. The Harley bests them with its instantaneous torque and a laid back pushrod powered cool. It starts endless conversations when I park somewhere and draws looks from cagers at the lights (stock pipes). – This new Harley Blackline looks like Starmaha which has already been there, and the price is out of the league of the average young person’s salary these days, but then, look at the price of the 600 Sport Bikes these days. Our whole economy is getting priced out of itself.

  33. Steve says:

    The British bike industry died because it didn’t keep up with the Japanese. At some point, hopefully before HD dies, they too will realize that heritage is not enough. Triumph prove that it can be done, so why can’t HD do it too ? Painting the frame black just isn’t gonna cut it. Evolve or die !

  34. It may be true that the baby boomers are growing older, but remember that all those sport-bike riders on their plastic shrouded crotch-rockets are also growing older (asuming their bikes don’t kill them). When they grow up and get married they are going to want an adult bike and their wife won’t want to perch on a 6 square inch seat, f-feet in the air with nothing to hold onto. Their option will be either a genuine harley or a Japanes clone. Isuspect most will want the real thing. I’ve got 4 bikes in the garage, two Yamahas, 1 Kawasaki and 1 Harley. The older I get the more I like the Harley. Kepp riding mates!

  35. Eric says:

    Hmmm.. another bloated bike that never left the ‘good ol days’. I have to give the Milwaukee boys credit for their marketing skills. I would not get one, but as I get older, and the bikes from other manufacturers get smaller and smaller (thanks to the moto-rags).. eventally, a Harley will be the only bike that will fit me 🙁

  36. Scott says:

    I would like to see the Moto-journalism world (and could lead this charge if they chose to) say to Harley: “Look, if you can make minor revisions to existing models and slap a new paint job on it and call it a ‘new’ model, good for you. Go for it. Take those suckers for all they’ve got.

    . . . but please don’t expect us to feature these as ‘new’ bikes. There are a lot of interesting things going on in the motorcycle world that will get top billing over these bikes.

  37. ALFY says:

    I don’t own a Harley (I have a 2008 B-king and a 2004 Firebolt). I am 46, and could afford to buy it, but $15500 + taxes, fees, freight, alarm, + add-ons installed by the dealer, and the unwillingness of the latter to negotiate = $18000 OTD, no thanks. It is a neat bike, as a third bike. Parts are not too costly and will be available for years. It is simply unreasonably too expensive for a bike, period. High cost and the dealership network ‘tudes are the greatest problems HD will face in the future, at a time when younger, computer savy riders/buyers are used to negotiate car prices down $1000s on the web. Of course some models are less expensive but the dealers and the unwanted add-ons will still have to be dealt with.

  38. Fuzzyson says:

    Harley=Same tired bikes with a new coat of paint.

  39. Thumper says:

    I have an ’04 Road King which I have cherried and built. It currently has 46000 miles on it. I am 56 years old and broke. I certainly don’t need another Harley. The only other Harley I would consider is the V-Rod.

  40. David M says:

    Harley’s biggest competition is the thousands upon thousands of very low mileage used Harleys now, and soon to be, on the market

  41. jay1975 says:

    Looks like a custom Deuce. They seem to just take a bunch of parts from discontinued models, piece them together and call it a “dark custom”. Where the h3ll is the originality. You can’t make the same product for decades and expect new generations to fawn over it, unless you are AC/DC of course.

  42. MarxMyth says:

    I think Harley’s problem is that they try to appeal TOO MUCH to their home crowd. It’s great that they listen to what their fans want, but there should also be an effort to bring in new riders (which there doesn’t seem to be). Perhaps it’s merely a case of living in the HD bubble that keeps them from taking steps into the present. I’m not anti-Harley but they haven’t done anything to make me take notice of their company.

  43. Trpldog says:

    Been riding since 1974. If Harley goes belly-up I wouldn’t lose 1 second of sleep. I hope getting rid of Buell bites HD bigtime. Their HD bandana clad Vietnam flashbackers are all but gone. Their nonstop marketing hype and smokescreen image production machine is about to become nothing more than a blip on the motorcycle history radar screen. The big bad black macho steam engine is out of fuel and out of track.
    It boggles my mind that the HD pack- rat mentality went as far as it did. I think they should apologize to Erik, humbly offer him and the Buell crew 20 million to come back and save HD’s backside from the inevitable.

  44. Zombo says:

    I haven’t lusted after a cruiser styled bike in close to 30 years , but they and their loud pipes are everywhere in northern NJ when the weather gets halfway warm . Maybe the sales of new ones are down , but my eyes and ears say there are plenty of used ‘noise bikes’ with idiots dressed like pirates riding them ! Arrrr ! Let’s ride to a barrr !

    • Trpldog says:

      “idiots dressed like pirates”
      Love it.
      Can’t accelerate, can’t brake, can’t turn – but I can make noise!

  45. Kjazz says:

    Sounds like Tim thinks like I do about this. The Boomers are on their way out of prime motorcycle buying/riding years. Some will continue. And some will continue making money to afford it for another 15 years, or so. But it’s the backside of the bell curve. Unless Harley somehow cultivates a new crop outa the Echo Boomer…..well, goodbye to Harley.

    The front wave of the Boomers grew up on American, then British machinery primarily. But the latter half and everyone since then has had a different perspective. Japanese, and others have provided immense product choice. There’s no way that a company built around 1930’s technology will remain what it has been so far. They make a wonderful 50 year old motorcycle, I’m not saying the bikes are junk. They are cool and solid. But so is your grandparent’s solid wood console zenith television with HI-FIDELTY SOUND!!!!

    C’mon Harley, pull your head out.

  46. jimbo says:

    The XR1200R is the only peach in H-D’s filled-to-the-brim box of lemons. The XR1200R would be pretty irresistible with about 20 more hp.

    • Jamboa says:

      Squeeze my Lemon till the juice runs down my leg and then I still want buy a Harley! You got that right about the XR.

    • mpolans says:

      I don’t have an issue with the horsepower, but it’d have to lose about 150lbs to catch my interest.

    • mpolans says:

      Then again, if it weighed about 150 less and handled better, it’d be like my Buell XB12S and Harley would kill it off.

      • jimbo says:

        good one!

        Ride the XR1200R. I’ve owned about 80 bikes. It really feels more like high 400 lbs curbside, not it’s actual high 500s. If it just had a little more poop on the top end. And a center stand.

  47. janetvillian says:

    Don’t own a HD, can’t see it in the near future, but….HD has an amazing engine in the V-Rod…put that in an Electra Glide and I WILL reconsider. Yes I’m 60, in the age group HD is trying to sell these air cooled relics to….

    • stinky says:

      Sorry, but not many feel the V-Rod is that amazing of an engine. It puts out adequate power (just barely) but is so darned big that it can only really be used in an Electra Glide, and again, those are old folks bikes. This company REALLY needs to try and attract some new non nostalgic riders, real riders.

  48. Jim says:

    Wow. Kids these days must be making some cash. I can remember when I picked up my first Kawasaki LTD (used) I was hesitant to throw down the grand it cost me. Now kids are looking in the ‘sub’ $10k range?

    Manufacturers need to:
    * Make them smaller – no one starting out needs a big motor
    * Make them cheaper – no one can afford these damn things
    * Make them unique – this looks like it rolled out of 1950

    Maybe I’m just old.

  49. Tim says:

    I’m 51 and at the tail end of the baby boom generation, but I’ve never had a serious desire to own a Harley. I grew up riding inexpensive, reliable, and light Japanese bikes. But if a 51 year old doesn’t “get it”, how do they expect the generations behind me to get it?

    They finally had a bright idea, in buying MV Agusta, so their product line would appeal to younger riders. They spend millions upgrading those beautiful bikes, only to give the franchise back to the family who sold MV to them in the first place. Their current CEO is an idiot, pure, plain and simple!

    If a company doesn’t evolve their products, they will not survive long term, and Harley has shown no willingness to evolve their products.

    Also, if they want to try to appeal to younger riders, they need to find a way to cut costs and lower their prices. My wife and I make around $200,000 per year, but there is no freakin’ way I’d spend $15,000 or $20,000 or more on an antiquated motorcycle. How can they expect kids making $40,000 a year to do that? I might drop $18,000 on a beautiful MV Agusta Brutale, with a lot of expensive alloy parts, and the heavenly MV sound, but I’m not dropping that kind of money on a dated plow horse.

    • Jamboa says:

      I do not beleive they spent any R&D on MV. They did not keep the brand long enough to take a dump! Well yea that is wahat they did , they took a dump. They dumped MV Agusta.

      • Mickey says:

        Actually after selling MV back to the family for the equivalent of $1 they gave MV $38 million for development.

        …then they hit US up for Tarp money to stay in business

        Unbelievable really.

    • jimbo says:

      Part of the equation employed by HD to determine the number of bikes each dealer receives is the dollar value of HD “lifestyle” merchandise (T-shirts, bandannas, leather vests, tattoo ink, etc). Lifestyle gear is first and foremost to HD’s survival because HD makes more profit selling image (lifestyle gear) than motor vehicles. Anyone can buy a T-shirt. Few people with the money to afford an HD are naive enough to buy one.

      So much for the so-called “motor company”. It’s actually an image company.

      The thing I find most ludicrous about HD is the “uniform code” of its adherents. I am most reminded of the way so many little prepubescent and adolescent girls used to dress themselves like Madonna back in the day before she adopted her phony British accent. Very strange to see adult men dressed like the Village People and taking themselves seriously.

  50. donniedarko says:

    “A mere 683 lbs” (^_^)

    There not getting new riders with that product imo either. HD seems to have lost more of its soul..

  51. Brent says:

    Nothing new here, bits & pieces from other H.D. models. The H.D. design department must still be hung over from their Christmas staff party. I can’t decide if it’s a Kawi 900 custom or a Star 1100 custom with a H.D. badge on it. Raider-more bike-more motor-less money !

  52. ABQ says:

    Are they seriously trying to attract a younger generation with an old timey looking like a hardtail bobber “Billy Bike”. Let’s get one thing right: this new generation was not even alive in the sixties, or seventies for that matter. They have no desire to relive that period. They despise those days and those bikes. Harley is fading into the past.
    An even bigger problem with Harley is the financing department. I have known people that bought a DynaWG five years ago, paid five hundred dollars a month and still owe 13,000. WTF!!! If you want to sell bikes then come up with an Honest financing program that allows for buyer to actually end up owning the bike!

  53. Victor says:

    Changing the paint and handlebars doesn’t quite constitute a “new” model. This is the same model that Harley Davidson is well known for, and it becomes more painfully obvious each decade that they have no interest in anything “new”. Granted, the devotion of the existing Harley customer base is impressive (I know the Harley faithful), but the Motor Company’s admission of changing demographics seems nearly coincident with their loss of sales. Bailing out Chrysler resulted in the K-car that saved their lives by appealing to a whole new customer base. That isn’t to be seen here. From the perspective of someone in his mid-50’s, the list of faults this model has is seemingly endless – from the absurd weight to the pegs placed where they need to be in order to clear the ridiculous clutch housing, with no regard for the human anatomy. I have no interest in Harley Davidsons, even though I can afford one.

  54. Biff Grimes says:

    Why don’t they primer the bike and call it the Flat-Blackline to match the half shell “helmets” currently so popular with all the “rebels” out there.

  55. GP says:

    I *am* their target demographic, but this bike would be near, or at the bottom of my list. Just look at the passenger. My wife would not like to ride in that curled up, hunched over position for more than a mile or so. The wheelbase is too long for any “fun”, and that boat anchor of a motor just does not elicit any excitement.
    I am not a sport bike fan, but a normal looking, good handling, strong running standard, with good rider and passenger accomodations is tough to find these days.
    Bring back the UJM. There is no reason HD can not give us a “Universal American Motorcycle”. The Buell Ulyses was so close!

  56. MarkF says:

    If they could just build a cruiser with a normal seat height with some suspension travel and good brakes. Like the FXRS Sport from the 80’s. Oh, yeah, mid mount controls should at least be an option and not just on the two cheapest bikes. I’m convinced that harley builds their bikes to look bland and cheap to get buyers in the parts department every visit to service.

  57. Mr. Mike says:

    It struck me one day that HD style cruisers are the grown-up equivalent of those lawnmower engine powered minibikes we rode as kids.

  58. Eric says:

    Maybe if they put a Rotax engine in it……..

  59. Rich says:

    I recently read that Harley’s fan base average age is around 46 and has been aging about 6 months per year over the last several years. They better start targeting the younger market or they’ll wind up like Cadillac.

  60. Donnie says:

    You know, I once owned a motorcycle that was quite similar to this Harley in appearance. It was made by Suzuki and called the Intruder.

    I hated that bike. It was fast in a straight line, but forget trying to take turns at any speed faster than a walking pace without scraping parts. The VS800 was designed the same way…fat rear tire an a skinny front tire, and I did not like the way it handled at all.

    No thanks, Harley Davidson.

  61. Mike Perez says:

    Looked at that bike and said “hasn’t changed” still looks the same. Come to think of it neither has there riding gear – looks very protective.

  62. BPT says:

    Another remake of an old model. Softail Standard in black, bigdeal! Someone is watching too much Sons of Anarchy at Harley.

  63. mpolans says:

    I’m 33, I make about 80k/year and I’m even in the market for a cruiser. I’ve owned a Buell and 2 Harleys before, even buying one of them new. You’d think I’d be the target audience for Harley. However, after what they did to Buell, I can’t forgive them. I’ve decided to vote with my dollars and definitely not buy any Harleys made after Buell was killed off, and I might not ever even buy used ones from before then. Instead, I’ll look to Victory and the Japanese cruisers. Screw Harley.

  64. Jack Rabbit says:

    Think I would buy the V-Rod Muscle in black instead. The price starts at just under 15 grand too.

  65. falcodoug says:

    It’s the same bike, it’s always the same bike, bla, bla, bla, bla bla……. no thanks.

  66. Jay Jonas says:

    A geek with a blacked-out halfie helmet covering a black pirate’s bandana while wearing black rubbermaid gloves trying to look tough…is still a geek… matter how pretty the woman on the back is. It’s almost impossible to take their products seriously when even they’re models look like poseurs.

    My dreaem is for The Motor Company begins with a dyna. Give it 18, at most 19 inches up front with no excessive rake, along with that 140 rear. Upgrade the suspenders, put dual discs in the front (for that needed stopping ability), and then comes the REAL challenge: bring those 96 cubes into the 21st century by hiding a radiator somewhere, then message that engine to give it some real riding power. And for the last trick- try dropping 75 lbs. I love the look of the Dyna but I don’t see it as more than just jewelry.

    To those who say a liquid cooling is treason, I have one answer: Porsche 996 and 997.

    No one asked for my opinion, but thought I’d chime in anyway…

  67. Ryder says:

    I don’t think HD fundamentally gets it. Slow, poor-handling, parts-dragging-in-the-turn, functionally indadequate, yet over-priced, motorcycles just basically don’t appeal to the young, for the most part. (Or even to the young at heart, such as my 66 year old self.)

  68. RedFZ1 says:

    Wake up HD. You’ve run out of the “me too” mind set of people who are willing to pay way too much for stone ax tech just to say they own a HD. Getting rid of Buell just goes to show that HD doesn’t have a clue.

  69. Marty says:

    I’m 62 and like the looks of the Harleys. But until they put out something with more than a 26 degree lean angle I’ll stick with something that corners. Like my BMW.

  70. Dan says:

    Just how long do they think they can keep selling two-wheeled 59′ Caddy’s anyway? I’m 60 and have been riding lots of bikes all my life, but have never been sucked into thier black outfit “lifestyle”. For Harley to continue, they need something to really attract today’s electronic game boy computer geeks in their 30’s or so that can afford a bike that relates to them, and that they can afford. Harley’s present floor stock won’t touch them by a country mile. After what Harley did to the rest of the world bike market to be imported into the US in the 80’s (25% import tax & displacement limit of 700cc), I have no sympathy for them. Potato-Potato-Potato into the sunset.

  71. Scorpio says:

    Nice lines I guess for an “old man’s bike”, but my question is: it’s different from the Night Train how (other than a reasonable-width rear tire)?

  72. bobuell says:

    A 240 rear tire makes the old lads a** look smaller

  73. JimS says:

    I am 51 years old and have never owned or desired a Harley Davidson motorcycle. But if they would make the xr1200r with the V Rod engine as the original design, you have my interest. Too bad the Harley management messed up the V Rod engine to make it look wide, old and obsolete. H-D should service their loyalist but with some options for us whom don’t want a 1903 look for our motorcycles. Now if Honda would just put the SuperHawk engine in a naked package with some homage to their flat track bikes, I’m all in.

  74. johnny says:

    Harleys are just way to expensive. They need to drop there price by ten thousand and then they will sell to the younger generation. You can get a brand new car for this kind of money and put your friends in it and go partying.

  75. Martin says:

    Looks exactly like an upscaled Honda XLV600 Steed, or the XLV400 version we import from Japan here in New Zealand.

    I think I’d rather have the Honda. At least I’d be able to pick it up off the sidestand.

    Good job on the narrower tyres, but with that low seat it won’t have any ground clearance, so any sportiness is wasted. So heavy, slow, wobbly in a straight line, and can’t go around corners. Harley is mental.

    Why have Americans wasted millions of tax payers TARP funds propping up a bunch of lazy crooks running a motorcycle museum for aging poseurs?

    • Jim says:

      You are right Martin. If you can’t pick it up off the sidestand you should stick to your 400s and 600s.

      I’m sick of people bashing HDs- all bikes are cool in their own way. Do you expect the market to produce only bikes for one customer, you?

      I have an HD, but also a Kawasaki ZRX and a Triumph Bonneville. Don’t be so narrow minded.

    • Gabe says:

      This is an incredibly unfair thing to say. The TARP funds will be repaid, if they haven’t been already. H-D has been a great american success story and is staffed by very devoted people, from top to bottom. Nobody is lazy, and there isn’t much crookedness going on, either.

      • Dennis says:

        His statement isn’t all that far from the truth. Look at the way the upper management savaged their “devoted people” in their last contract. Typical American Corporate greed. Reward the top dogs, and starve the rest while stripping them of their benefits.
        After all the money they saved, this is the best they could do?
        I’ve owned several HD’s, but I won’t ever own another.

        • Chris #2 says:

          Once congressman Issa gets done exposing all the shenanigans that they used TARP funds for, the money they threw at Harley will look like a good investment in comparison.

    • jd says:

      Funny. I thought the same exact thing about it looking like a Japanese cruiser. The orange and black unit looks like a HD knock-off of a Japanese cruiser that started as a HD knock-off. Shows you can only do so much with a classic cruiser style and it’s tiring. At least the Victory High Ball looks a little different.

      10 years ago when I started riding I just thought Harleys were the coolest thing. I was 30. I thought, “I gotta get my Harley and then all the shirts and crap. I have to look cool.” Well, after a couple years I decided that I actually like cornering/performance and would never even consider a cruiser, let alone an expensive HD, as my primary ride.

      Very sad, because I really dig the American motorcycle story, 100+ years, etc. HD should take some of all that costume revenue and build bikes that compare to all the other models I drool over in the mags. The v-twin the way they do it sucks, but Willie G won’t let go of the heritage there. Keep the slugs in the line-up, but give Americans a real sport oriented motorcycle and just accept these buyers won’t buy over-priced leather chaps. But we do spend a lot on our rides in other ways.

      More than my 2 cents…

  76. Dannytheman says:

    I think the economy has hurt buying more than boomers getting older. I bought my Harley when the business was good. when the economy turns, the 30 somethings that make it into financial freedoms will buy the Harley. Harley has to hang in there.

  77. mrsdoubtfire says:

    How the hell do you fart with footpegs that far forward?

  78. Richard says:

    I currently own a 08 Buell XB12Scg (20k miles) and an 81 Honda CB900C (45k miles). I was attracted to both these models because of the way they felt to me and the way they LOOK. Unless you’re a real HD fan, you really can’t tell the difference between generations of production. 70s, 80s, 90s vintage HDs all look alike. And so it is with this “new” lineup. Really guys, there’s nothing new here. Aluminum frames? Ooooh, that’s a stretch. HD will never attract new customers while they keep playing the same old record, over and over and over again. You either like the look or you don’t

  79. steveinsandiego says:

    hmm. at the HD site other models were included in this new “line-up”. i really liked the street bob, as i have a soft spot for the old skool like. however, i was unsure about pricing.

    i couldn’t decide whether the dark customs come outta the factory, or if you hafta buy a base model and add the “dark custom” accessories to it – for a price, of course.

    btw, i’m 62 and, after 13 yrs of riding cruisers, have pretty muched switched to sportbikes with a kawi ninja 650r. however, if i could swing the dollars, i might git me a street bob.

  80. Leo says:

    Harley stabbing at the market. Park it with the Highball (or the Fury or Raider). The finish on those parts though, whoa! These guys still rock there.

  81. Tim says:

    It’s still about the being seen as the tough guy biker(lifestyle marketing), and not about the ride. I think that image is dying with the under 30 crowd. Being one of those aging BB’s, I tried a HD bagger, and it was like ridding a battleship compared to my discontinued Buell. When HD quit trying to make good riding bikes, they lost my business.

  82. donboy says:

    I was born in 1950 and ride an ’08 250 Ninja, so my opinion is worth nothing, but if I were to ride a cruiser, forget it.

  83. MG Norge says:

    To my eyes, and because Harleys are quite common, they all just look too much alike and way too familiar.

  84. Mark Pearson says:

    I’m 43 and the Sportster is the only Harley I’ve ever been interested in. I’d love to own a XR1200 but they’re just too damn expensive for what I’m doing right now which are track days.

    I still have a street bike but it’s a classic CB750 that I picked up for 1/4 the price of any Harley. When it’s time to trade up it will be to a late-model Bonneville.

    Once my track day career is over I’ll probably move on to dual-sporting which of course Harley has no product for. If I were to get a long-distance machine it would be a converted standard or true sport-tourer.

    Sorry Harley, I’m just not a cruiser kinda’ guy.

  85. Tom says:

    My kids, who are in their early 20’s, say Harley’s are “old man’s” bikes.

    No young interest in cruisers at all around here. I wonder how Harley will survive in 10 years when the boomers start to move to retirement homes in Florida and ride golf carts. Best selling motorcycle currently for Harley is a bagger. Isn’t that the last stop of the life cycle of the Harley metamorphosis?

  86. El Profe says:

    Front tire too big in diameter (21″) and rear tire way too slim for my taste, specially for $15K plus. Aceptable price if it has at least a 240 rear tire, but not with a skinny rear tire.

    • Rick says:

      Facinating how a wider tire can be worth so much more. It’s all in the ride however this bike is just not my style. Seems most Harleys still speak to the dark side of motorcycling. That alone keeps me away. I don’t need the Darth Vader motif to be bad or look cool. That’s not what riding’s about, at least for me.

    • ilikefood says:

      240 rear tire? Seriously? Why? You really don’t want a bike that handles reasonably well, do you?

      • El Profe says:

        The reason that the price can increase if fitting a 240mm tire is because of the modifications needed to make a wider 240mm tire fit (different or modified transmission, wider swingarm, wider rim, wider fender, etc).

        And a 240mm tire still handles very good, even in a sport bike, as long as the wheelbase is not increased too much or at all. Now, the 300, 330 or 360mm those are more for show than daily use.

  87. asphaltsurfer says:

    amazing how H-D can take the same can of rusty SAE bolts each year, shake it up and throw together something called a “new” model. H-D is an icon, more magicians than engineers. Not one of my current rides but they still have a place in my heart probably next to my clogging artery. I’m just glad to see so much strong competition and variety of makers from different countries putting their unique spin and DNA into the biking market. Regardless of one’s choice I’m glad that so many have remained given the economy.

  88. t-spot says:

    Me thinks the passenger has her helmet on backwards (no visible H-D logs)?

  89. Dave says:

    Take some tarp money and build some more of the same crap. Not a lot af imagination at the motor company. I would love to buy American but this is just a stupid bike made for posers.

  90. Michael Haz says:

    The Dept. of Paint and Decals brings out a “new” model.

    HD should have kept the Ulysses in production; they’d sell more of them than they will these re-tinted softies.

  91. MarkT says:

    Positive Comments:
    1) I like the color combinations
    2) The overall style is clean
    3) For $11995 MSRP, it would be fairly priced and reflect the fact that we tax payers already paid for a portion of the bike already!

    Negative Comments:
    1) The cruiser/chopper thing has gotten old, and is not appealing to a younger crowd. S
    2) Needs upgraded suspension like the XR1200X, just to be of this century and to make the bike more than a styling excersize. Style over substance is a losing proposition
    3) The price will definitely be over $15000. After a second taxpayer bailout since 1980 with all the stock holders and dealer getting fat in the interim years, this price will be an insult to the tax payer and they will continue to shop elswhere
    4) The same has happened with GM vs. FORD. Ford sales are up for many of the same reasons listed above, while GM sales stagnate

  92. Joey says:

    Wow!! A glorified nightster! You guys at HD sure do how to think out of the box. Of course there will be alot of first time bikers that buy it, Because the name alone. I guess when you have it like that you don’t have to think.

  93. Dave says:

    I think Harley is destined to the same fate as other American makes. Either they’ll become a low volume brand or disappear altogether.

    One wold think that if your target customer is declining in numbers-you change targets.

    Buell Motorcycles was probably what could have saved H-D in the future, if only they would have allowed Eric to build the motorcycle HE wanted to build and get away from a history of antiquated tech that H-D finds so dear.

    Young buyers don’t really care about the history of Harley Davidson.
    Do you think the young guys buying bikes from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, & Suzuki care about their respective lineage? NOT!

    HD needs to get it’s head out of it’s ass before they create their own demise.
    The bikes they offer now are doing nothing to bring younger riders to their brand…including the one above, “dark” or not.

  94. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    I think it indeed needs a TARP, but not the kind we have to pay for. 😉
    One hideous-looking motorcycle.

  95. Doug says:

    Its painfully evident that HD doesn’t understand how to cope with the changing customer demographic. Gen X and the Net Gen’ers don’t want warmed over, antiquated, over-priced machinery with pretty new paint. They appreciate and want technology that works. The Hog lifestyle gravy train is headed down the tracks, and the bridge ahead is already washed out…

  96. MarkyMark says:

    If they’d sell it at $10k, I’d think about it; at $15.5k, it’s just too much for too little. If I’m going to spend THAT kind of money on a bike, I’ll get a Beemer instead…

  97. ben says:

    same shyte, different decade

  98. Todd says:

    Wow, bolt on some parts from the parts book , tell us its the cool new look and slap on a 16 thou sticker, How dumb do they think we are????

  99. Matt says:

    I’m 28 years old, and willing to spend my hard-earned money on my motorcycles (I have 4 of them), so i’d imagine i’m the kinda guy Harley is looking to win over, age 25-40 with a little extra to spend. So, here’s my little opinion, the perspective of someone who has watched Harley go out of their way to alienate “young people”, and bash any technology that’s less than 50 years old:

    I hate to admit it, but I must say…… That all-black bike in the top pic is one VERY SEXY motorcycle, and for ME to say THAT about a Hardley Ableson is a pretty big statement. It’s long and low, it’s smooth and streamlined, it’s got an old-school-looking motor that sounds like it could pull a stump from the ground. Having spent a few hours on a Fatboy, this is the kinda bike that makes you FEEL cool. It’s a Seriously Sexy motorcycle, and if it performs well enough, I might possibly consider it….

    96-inch Twin Cam motor………. Check
    Six-speed transmission(Welcome to the 21st century, Harley)…… Check.
    All-Black, Long, Low, and Mean………. Check.
    21-inch front with black aluminum rims and laced spokes…….. Check.
    Forward controls STANDARD…….. Check.

    700 lbs wet……… Are you serious? If I wanted a workout, i’d go to the gym.
    Starting at $15,499……… Ya lost me.

    Do you have ANY idea how much MORE motorcycle I could get for that kinda money?!?!?!?!?
    Do you know how much more FUN and USEFUL dozens of other motorcycles are?!?!?!

    If Harley wants to win the younger generations over, they’re gonna have to try alot harder than this. They’re gonna have to learn what Aluminum is, and how to use it. They’re gonna get rid of 20 lb exhaust brackets made of 1-inch-thick steel. They’re gonna stop clinging desperately to 1948. They’re gonna stop charging me extra for obsolete suspension (Springer front end). They’re gonna re-release the V-Rod with it’s ORIGINAL-Spec engine, the way it was when Porsche made it for them, with 160+ HP instead of it’s de-tuned 115.

    The list goes on…..

  100. Chris says:

    It doesn’t look like they put the TARP money to good use…

  101. Mickey says:

    Wow, first the new Victory Highball, then this….that design MUST be what we want (or so they MUST think)

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